Flying M Ranch housing decision postponed as traffic concerns being weighed
Commissioners postpone a decision on development that critics say would change the nature of the community.
Traffic, lighting, density and urban disruption dominated a continued public hearing about a proposed mixed-use development south of Glenwood Springs Monday, pitting developers against the neighboring community.
The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners continued a public hearing on the proposed Flying M Ranch development near the Riverview School to May 20, to give staff time to review comments from the Colorado Department of Transportation about the traffic impacts.
CDOT responded to an updated traffic study just hours before the Monday hearing, and staff did not have time to review it before the 1 p.m. hearing.
The owners of the land, under the company Eastbank LLC, are pressing developer Robert Macgregor, who was a major player in the Glenwood Meadows project, to begin soon and take advantage of the 2019 construction season.
The project includes affordable housing in the form of tiny homes and townhouses, plus several business spaces, improvements to a trail along the Roaring Fork River, and potentially a community center and a hospice/elder care facility.
The Westbank homeowners association has mixed feelings about the prospect of tiny home development, with some saying the traffic is a great concern, Steven Beattie, partner at the Glenwood law firm Beattie, Houpt and Jarvis, said at the hearing.
But the townhome and condominium units that the developers propose are unacceptable, Beattie said.
“We are unanimous in the proposition that, to put this kind of unit directly across the street, the river from Westbank is completely inappropriate,” Beattie said.
One major sticking point is the height. Westbank homeowners are limited to 25 feet, but Eastbank LLC still wants a 35-foot height limit for the proposed townhouses. Eastbank amended their application with a 30-foot limit for the community center, and a 25-foot height limit for single-family homes.
“Right now, you have people who are ready and willing to do something new here, and I ask that you’d give them a chance,” Macgregor told the commissioners Monday.
Generally, neighbors see the development as too dense. The project would be far more dense than the surrounding rural-suburban area, proposing 228 living units on 33 acres.
“Everything in this part is zoned rural, and that’s why many folks live here. We don’t want to live in the city, so why change it?” said John Haines, a Westbank resident.
The project doesn’t fit any more than the proposed storage unit near Catherine Store in Carbondale, Haines said.
Commissioner Mike Samson commented that the storage unit projects, which the board rejected in April, would be welcome developments in western Garfield County. Haines suggested that perhaps this development would be better suited to the western part of the county, as well.
Macgregor said later in the hearing that, suggesting the development be sent west was “a whistle call to the class system” and a disservice to the workforce that teaches in area schools and works in restaurants and at golf courses.
A housing needs survey presented in late April found that just 19,000 out of 47,000 employed residents of the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys live where they work.
Editor’s Note: This post has been corrected regarding the proposed height limitations. An earlier version said the 35 foot height limit for townhouses had been reduced to 30 feet.
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